Monday, April 18, 2016
According to Acts the new born church met in the Temple and from house to house (Acts 2:46). Sometimes we are guilty of reading our views into the Bible rather than actually seeing what was happening. They met in the Temple, but where? The Temple contained “the Woman’s Court” where women were allowed to worship. The widow placed her coins in the treasury there (Mark 12:41-44). Anna, the prophetess, spoke to all about redemption there (Luke 2:36-38). Since it was open to men and women, that must have been where the church met. If they had met elsewhere, women would have been excluded.
Did the church engage in a “worship service” in that courtyard? Can you imagine hundreds of people going through that court on their way to prayer or to sacrifice? Wasn’t Peter interrupted with a question when he was preaching on Pentecost (Acts 2:37). If the saved did meet there for worship, there would be movement by those who were not members as well as a constant buzz of conversation and activity. There would be women coming to give as the widow had done. In that court, women were allowed to speak up and teach. Such goings on would not be practical to our way of thinking when it comes to conducting a worship service. Actually, Luke never uses the word “worship” in the context of Acts 2:42 through 47.
In Acts 3 Peter and John entered by Solomon’s Porch which led to the Women’s Court. The actions of the healed lame man gave Peter an opportunity to preach Jesus (Acts 3:11-12). They are arrested (4:3). In spite of that arrest, about five thousand men believed. Persecution motivated them to becomes slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:16-18)! When the apostles were released they return to the assembly to report (4:23). The apostles continued preaching in the same place (5:12), but are arrested again (5:18). They are released by an angel, but brought back later before the court (5:27). They are warned, beaten, and released, but they continued daily to teach in the Temple area (5:40-42). Persecution continues to escalate until Stephen is murdered (Acts 7:58-60). From Acts 8:1 onward Luke never mentions the church going to the Temple to preach. Teaching and preaching is mentioned as an activity of the apostles, but Luke never refers to those activities as a worship assembly or service.
If a “church service” was held in the Temple’s Women’s Court, there would not only be a void of seating, but no table for the Lord’s supper, no plates to pass for the contribution, nor any reason to do so (Acts 4:37; 5:2), no place to fill the communion cups if they had such, no cry room for children, no public bathrooms, no pulpit, no baptistery, and always the distraction from people coming and going. To have a church assembly there would be like conducting one in a Super Walmart on Saturday. The apostles could preach to others, as Anna did, but to have a “regular” Sunday morning worship would be unlikely. House meetings would fulfill that need without the distractions. Yet, Luke states they met daily “praising God” (Acts 2:47). So, what were they doing daily in that “praise” that caused “all the people” to favor them and motivated them to be “added daily” to be “saved”?
What did that daily “praise” include? Here is what the context contains:
1). Apostolic teaching.
3). Breaking of bread.
5). Being together.
6). Having “all things common.”
7). Sold possession and goods and “parted them to all as every man had need.
8). Were of “one accord.”
9). Broke bread.
10). Ate with gladness and singleness of heart, and . . .
11). Praising God.
That “Praise,” “Favor,” and “Added” is desperately needed today!